Economy Watch: Retail Sales Up in April

U.S. retail sales increased 0.4 percent in April and 4.5 percent from the same time last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Retailers like electronic stores and building material suppliers had a good month, and even department stores eked out a small gain.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. retail and food services sales came in at $474.9 billion in April, an increase of 0.4 percent from March, and 4.5 percent above April 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau on Friday. Also, the March 2017 change in sales was revised from down 0.2 percent to up 0.1 percent.

Car sales bounced back for the month, up 0.7 percent, though they weren’t a major component of the increase in overall sales. Factor out auto sales, and total retail sales for the month were up 0.3 percent. Compared with a year ago, car sales were up 4.4 percent.

Some retailers had a good month. Electronics stores, for instance, enjoyed an increase in sales of 1.3 percent for April, and 0.7 percent for the year. Building material supply retailers saw an increase of 1.2 percent for the month, and 9.3 percent for the year. Even department stores eked out a 0.2 percent gain for the month, though they suffered a 3.7 percent decline for the year.

Non-store retailers—which is what the bureau calls Internet sales—were up 1.4 percent for the month, which is consistent with growth for that kind of retail. For the year, Internet sales were up 11.9 percent.